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Round up of legislation, case law, guidance and news: July 2021
Posted on 30/07/21 in Housing Matters
Welcome to the latest monthly round-up from Housing Matters.
Interim period for possession claims extended
The interim period for possession claims has been extended to 30 November 2021. During the interim period landlords and lenders must follow specific rules in relation to new or stayed claims.
Seven days notice of eviction where a previous eviction is not carried out
From 7 August 2021, where execution of a warrant or writ of possession does not take place on the date specified on the notice of eviction, a further notice must be delivered to the premises at least 7 days before the new eviction date.
Shorter notice periods for tenants in rent arrears
From 1 August 2021. landlords of secure and assured tenants can serve two months' notice on rent arrears grounds for arrears of less than four months' rent. Where there are more than four months' worth of arrears, landlords have been able to serve a four week notice since 1 June 2021.
People experiencing domestic abuse are now in automatic priority need
From 5 July 2021, people who are homeless because of domestic abuse have an automatic priority need for homelessness assistance. A new definition of domestic abuse applies when determining whether a perons is homeless or in priority need.
End of the grace period for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme
The deadline for most EEA nationals and their family members to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme was 30 June 2021. People who applied to the scheme before 30 June but have not yet received a decision will still have temporary protection. People with temporary protection may be eligible for homelessness assistance if they meet additional criteria.
Rules excluding people with pre-settled status from benefits not contrary to EU law
The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that legislation stating EU citizens with pre-settled status were not eligible for universal credit was not contrary to EU law. National authorities may only refuse an application for social assistance after ascertaining that this will not result in a violation of their fundamental rights, including the right to human dignity and the rights of the child. Authorities may take into account all of the forms of assistance provided for in national law.
The UK Supreme Court has stayed the hearing of a similar case pending the decision of the CJEU. (Fratila v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  EWCA 1741)
Replacement joint tenatns can claim for a breach of tenancy deposit rules
In a County Court appeal, the court held that replacement tenants under a joint tenancy had a right to claim against a landlord for a breach of tenancy depsoit rules if they had paid their share of the deposit to the departing tenant. Each 'churn' of the tenancy created a new requirement to protect the deposit.
CCTV footage of racially aggravated gestures and language sufficient to cause alarm or distress
A Housing Association successfully brought committal proceedings for breach of an injunction against a tenant who engaged in racist harassment of his neighbour. Racially aggravated language and gestures were used in a communal pathway and captured on CCTV. It did not matter that the neighbour was not present during the conduct, the fact they would see the CCTV footage was sufficient to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
Unauthorised occupiers evicted where rights under Article 10 and 11 engaged
The High Court found that protesters occupying Clapham Common could be evicted even though their rights under Article 10 and Article 11 were engaged. The occupation interfered with the rights of the public justifying a 'pressing social need' to make a possession order.
Leaseholder able to use break clause where property left without fixtures
The Court of Appeal held that a lessee was not prevented from exercising a break clause due to leaving the property in a poor state of repair and with missing fixtures. The requirement to give vacant possession meant leaving the property free of people, chattels and interests. The claimant's remedy was to claim compensation for loss caused by missing fittings and disrepair.
Updates to Homelessness Code of Guidance
Chapter 21: Domestic Abuse has been updated following changes brought in by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. Amendments have also been made to Chapter 8: Priority need. Chapter 25: Modern Slavery and Trafficking has also been updated.
Chapter 7: Eligibility for assistance has been updated following the end of the grace period for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Updated guidance on EU Settlement Scheme
The EU Settlement Scheme: Information for Local Authorities guidance contains information about temporary protection, late applications and reasonable grounds for applying after the 30 June 2021 deadline.
Updates to MHCLG coronavirus guidance
Following the end of restrictions on 19 July 2021, the government has updated its non-statutory guidance for landlords and tenants, as well as on possession proceedings, moving home, and homelessness hostels.
New easy read version of the How to Rent guide
MHCLG have produced an easy read version of the How to rent guide. Private landlords are required to provide tenants with a copy of the prescribed document How to rent: the checklist for renting in England. If a landlord fails to provide a copy of this document before service of a section 21 notice, that notice will be invalid. It is unclear whether providing the easy read version is sufficient.
Homelessness statistics: January to March 2021
MHCLG have released statistics on statutory homelessness for the first quarter of 2021. 68,250 households were assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness, down 10.7% from January to March 2020. The number of households in temporary accommodation was 95,450, up 3.5% from 92,190 on 31 March 2020.
Report into local authority use of algorithms in welfare benefit systems
A report by civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch into the use of predictive analytics and algorithmic decision making in welfare benefits, including how fraud risk scores can be influenced by factors such as age or number of children.
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